"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to Inform and Enhance Your Writing With Movies

It's something that most of us do on the regular: kick back and watch a flick.
Whether it's part of a date night ritual or a way to unwind in private after a hard week at work.
This popular past-time is a billion-dollar industry.

For me, it's one of my favorite (and most frugal) ways to relax, escape and renew.
And it's fat free and guilt free. Hello?

It's even been compared to therapy. In the book Cinematherapy, the Girl's Guide to Movies for Every Mood, the authors write: "Movies are more than entertainment: they're self medication. A good flick is like a soothing tonic that, if administered properly, in combination with total inertia and something obscenely high in fat grams, can cure everything from an identity crisis, to a bad hair day, to the I-hate-my-job blues."

But, there's another benefit afforded here. Besides being a fun outlet (and therapeutic), movie watching provides great pointers on the creative process and how to deliver true entertainment value to an audience.
In fact, it works along the same lines as reading.

With this in mind, here are a few lessons that movie watching has imparted, (based upon my movie marathon over the last two weeks) that you can "observe" to enhance and inform your writing, regardless of your respective genre.

Are you ready?


The Movie: 50 Shades of Grey
The Lesson:
Okay, I admit that I am "tardy to the party" here. Many of you have probably seen this one a long time ago. I had heard a lot of the buzz, so when I saw it among the many titles available at my local library, I quickly snatched it up. My take in one word? YOWSA!
Initially, I liked it a lot.
It had a lot of important ingredients for a great movie experience: interesting story line, drama, romance, humor, good pacing. But, here's where it "derailed" for me.
The ending was a disappointment.  I felt let down.
The way that the main characters broke up, left "ME" without proper closure.

It's an important concept to consider in your writing. Make sure that your readers are reasonably "satisfied" when your article, blog post or novel concludes. That a major problem was resolved, or a technique was properly explained or explored. If not, they will feel that their experience was anti-climactic and not "worth the price of admission."

The Movie: The Family Stone
The Lesson:
Good writing is thorough, considerate, involved, intelligent and has universal appeal.
Though I admit that none of the characters in this movie had backgrounds I could totally identify with, they all had traits or family dynamics I could relate to. Who doesn't know what it's like to want to be accepted by his/her mate's family? To having a family that has certain dysfunctions? To saying things we later regret to people we love? This film cleverly tackles stereotypes about racism, disabilities, class and the complexity of relationships, with unexpected humor and taste.  The moral of the story here? When possible, injecting humor and compassion in your writing can add warmth, depth and layering.

The Movie: From the Rough
The Lesson:
I typically dig movies that are based off true life stories. And this one, reflecting the career of Catana Starks, (the first African American woman to coach an all men's team at the collegiate level), held real promise: it featured the talented Taraji P. Henson, from the hit series "Empire."
I wish that I could tell you I loved it; that it was well-developed and recommended.

But, unfortunately for me it was a real snooze fest. I watched it for about 25 minutes, then decided to view another movie. The problem? The pacing.
Take note here. No matter how well-written a piece or treatment is, it has to sustain your audience's interest to be fully experienced and appreciated. Don't take too long to get to the point or it will prove pointless.

The Movie: Claudine
The Lesson:
This blast from the past still holds appeal for me many decades later. And that's what good, effective writing does: it transcends time. This movie, ( starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carol) is about a single mom who tries to balance a career, a relationship, and unruly kids of varying ages. It is sexy, fun and colorful-- with important social messages woven in.
Word to the wise: don't be afraid to tackle controversial topics; to tell your own truths; to speak authentically about your personal challenges; to include cultural references and "real" dialogue when warranted.

These are just a few take-aways you can apply when you are crafting your next novel, blog post, article or essay, to add entertainment value to your work.
If you do, you're sure to enjoy rave reviews in the future.

Movie reviews can not only enhance your writing, but also your bottom line. Be sure to check out this article that provides tips on how to share your reviews and earn money for your efforts.   


Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
What recent movie would you recommend?

Image Credits: https://Pixabay.com/


  1. Jen: I used to work in a library. Because I was on staff, I had use of their offerings even though my home library was in another town. I purchased a portable dvd player for Hubby for Christmas, but he didn't get into using it. I took it over and brought home dvds on my weekends I was off. On Friday nights, I sat at my dinner table, ate my meal and then watched whatever movie I had borrowed. One of the channels (TBS?) had a Friday night feature called "Dinner and a Movie." I realized I had my own version of it.

    1. Cute...you certainly did. :-) Thanks so kindly for your time and comment.

  2. All of these are useful tips. I particularly like, "Don't take too long to get to the point."

    I take note of actor's body language when I watch movies and apply some of those techniques to enhance my writing.

  3. Good approach, Lin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

  4. Good points, Jen. I not only gain some R&R and entertainment from watching films, I find inspiration for both fiction and non fiction. I think about pacing and characters, and almost always get ideas for articles or blog posts.

  5. Thanks for adding to the mix here. I value your time and feedback, Karen. :-)

  6. Fun post with some great points.
    Studying the actors also helps with character development.

  7. Hi Sandra,
    Welcome! Thanks so much for joining the conversation. And for becoming a follower. Appreciate you! :-)